PATIENCE is a virtue for the Meralco Bolts in an amazing comeback against the Air21 Express on Sunday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“We just remained patient. We made shots. Then we did something special on defense, and it luckily clicked,” said winning coach Ryan Gregorio, himself astonished at the way his team rallied from a 20-point deficit.
The Bolts appeared as good as done when they trailed by as many as 68-86 entering the fourth quarter until import Brian Butch and Jared Dillinger combined in a telling Meralco run in the final 12 minutes that turned the table around for the Bolts, who went on and posted a 109-98 win.
Patience and trust in each other were what made the difference for the Bolts, according to Gregorio.
“It was obvious that we just needed to pull each other, stay together, get back together, and win together,” he said. “It just paid off. Our patience paid off and we found ways to win.”
Even when down by a huge margin, Gregorio tried to calm his team down and didn’t show any bit of frustration.
And neither did he start pointing fingers at any of the players.
“I did not show panic. I have very strong resolve at our capabilities to bounce back,” said the eloquent coach.
“I really don’t like that (lashing at players). It doesn’t speak well of the kind of character that a person has. Every time something goes wrong, you put the blame on someone else,” said Gregorio. “It doesn’t work well. It’s not gonna work.”
But to team owner Manny V. Pangilinan and Meralco players, the huge come-from-behind win was a testament to Gregorio’s ability to coach even under duress.
“He’s been a good coach. I am impressed he did not back down even though the lead was huge. All praises for Ryan,” said Pangilinan, who was all smiles after the game.
Veteran guard Gary David was also full of praise for Gregorio, saying it was one of the best gambits he has seen from a coach during his PBA career.
“One of the best games na nakita ko ito. Hanga ako sa mga naging adjustment ni coach sa game,” said David, stressing Gregorio’s gambit to check Air21 high-scoring import Wesley Witherspoon in the final period set off Meralco’s miracle comeback.
“Talagang gamble ang ginawa ni coach dun. Pero it paid off. Kasi hindi talaga namin ma-stop yung import pero nakapag device siya ng strategy, agad-agad,” said the streak-shooting Gilas Pilipinas guard.
John Wilson, another key factor in the win, claimed Gregorio’s trust in his players worked wonders for the team.
“Maganda kay coach, pag nagkakamali kami, lalo pa niya kaming mino-motivate. Like kanina, sinabihan niya mga kakampi ko, kung malas kami sa offense, double up kami sa defense. Hindi siya naninisi,” said Wilson.
“Nung down kami ng 20, sinabi lang ni coach na lumaro lang kami. Simulan daw namin sa depensa hanggang sa makuha namin yung run namin. Good thing, nakuha nga namin,” added the Binangonan, Rizal pride.
“Kung paano kami nanalo ngayon, masasabi ko na it’s an incredible coaching by (coach) Ryan.”